Content developers for Google Help pages in the United States, employed by both Google and subcontractor Accenture, have voted by a significant margin to join the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA. The 26-2 vote comes after the workers publicly declared their intent to unionize in June and faced retaliatory layoffs, impacting more than 80 of the 119 unionized workers.
The election results, certified by the US’s National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), is a landmark victory in the workers’ struggle against Google and Accenture’s union-busting. In August, following mass layoffs, the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging illegal retaliation for organizing.
“Today’s victory proves what’s possible: when workers stand together, even Google cannot stand in our way. We organized so that we could have a say in our working conditions. In response, Google has tried to skirt its responsibility to us as our employer, while also laying off dozens of our team members. It is unjust that our jobs are being shipped off to workers who will be paid even less than us, and will have access to even fewer labour protections. We’re proud to win our union election today and will continue to organize until we receive our fair share. Google, we look forward to seeing you at the bargaining table soon,” said Jen Hill, Google Help Designer and member of the Alphabet Workers Union-CWA.
When asked about Google’s decision to lay off recently unionized Google Help workers at an NLRB hearing, a Google manager shared that the company’s standard practice is to first incubate work in the US and then offshore the projects. As removing US-based jobs is “standard practice” for Google, it is essential that workers organize in order to establish legal protections from future layoffs.
“This election is a testament to the power of collective action,” said Ben Parton, UNI Global Union’s ITCS sector head. “This victory is not just for them; it’s for all tech workers striving for better working conditions and fair treatment. Google’s statements about offshoring work show not only how important organizing is for US workers but also why it is necessary to organize throughout the company’s value chains and operations.”
The workers’ initial unionization efforts centered around improving pay and benefits, securing job stability, and addressing concerns over involuntary assignments to projects like Google Bard, the company’s AI chat bot, without adequate training or support, particularly when handling sensitive material.
The success of this union drive follows a similar victory by YouTube Music workers, also represented by AWU-CWA. Google has since said it intends to not engage in collective bargaining, challenging the NLRB’s mandate.
The Alphabet Workers Union-CWA is urging Google to cease its stalling tactics, adhere to U.S. labour laws, and come to the bargaining table. The union, part of Communications Workers of America, currently represents over 1,400 workers across Alphabet entities.